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Oil majors including Shell eye French shale oil explorer -report


LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Oil majors BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Statoil (STL.OL) are in talks to buy Toreador Resources (TRGL.O), a U.S. company exploring for oil in France, the New York Times said on its DealBook website.

The companies have signed confidentiality agreements with Toreador, which has a market capitalisation of $210 million, and concluded technical due diligence on the firm’s oil properties, the newspaper said, citing people briefed on the matter.

Toreador has the right to develop 649,000 acres, with an additional 153,000 acres pending regulatory approval, in the Paris Basin, where an estimated 65 billion barrels of oil are believed to be in the source rock, the company says on its website.

New drilling technology has opened up drilling for oil and gas in complex rock formations, including shale, which were previously uncommercial.

Toreador said in November it was exploring strategic alternatives, including raising capital by equity or debt offerings, and possible partnership in the Paris Basin oil shale.

Shell declined comment. BP and Statoil were not available for comment.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin, editing by Will Waterman)

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